- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Hollywood resident Tracy A. Harris took over as vice president and dean of the College of Southern Maryland’s Leonardtown campus this week.
“Coming from a sister institution, he understands community colleges,” Brad Gottfried, president of CSM, said. “I can’t afford someone who has a very steep learning curve. I know Dr. Harris will hit the road running.”
Gottfried said Harris was offered the job about six weeks ago and had to finish out his work at Prince George’s Community College before starting his new job Monday in Leonardtown.
“He’s very, very student centered,” Gottfried said. Harris also has a “calm personality” that will help him run the Leonardtown campus, which had an enrollment of 2,630 students last spring, the college president said.
“I will have an open-door policy for students. I think that is just invaluable,” Harris said Monday, adding that he hopes to be visible and accessible on and off campus.
He said he is looking forward to working in the community he lives in, including cutting down his commute from an hour and a half to just seven minutes.
As the dean of the Leonardtown campus, Harris will oversee day-to-day services and operations. He will also work to support faculty, staff and students, he said.
Harris said he will continue to spread the message of a “one college concept” where services are provided seamlessly among campuses for anyone in Southern Maryland. CSM also has campuses in Charles and Calvert counties. He will also work on program development at the Leonardtown campus for services that are of particular interest to St. Mary’s County residents.
Gottfried said there were more than 50 applicants for the job from a national search. A committee made up mostly of Leonardtown campus employees screened the applications and narrowed the field to six.
Five of those applicants agreed to interviews, Gottfried said, and two were brought back for followup interviews and to meet the campus community earlier this summer. “From these I selected Dr. Harris,” he said.
One of the requirements was that the new dean live in St. Mary’s County within six months of being selected. That was not a problem for Harris, who has lived in Hollywood since 2006.
“Having someone who is familiar with St. Mary’s, lives here and made a commitment, certainly played very well in the selection process,” Gottfried said.
Another key factor was that Harris enters the leadership role with more than 26 years of experience in higher education, including 12 years at community colleges and 14 years with bachelor-degree universities, Gottfried said.
Harris most recently served as dean of enrollment services with Prince George’s Community College. He also has experience in admissions and financial aid at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
Harris has a doctorate of philosophy, community college leadership, from Walden University, a master of public administration from the University of Pittsburgh and a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice from The Pennsylvania State University.
Harris is married to Lori Jennings-Harris, director of the St. Mary’s County Department of Aging and Human Services. The couple has two daughters, one a graduate of Leonardtown High School and one who is currently a junior at the school.
In March, F.J. Talley, the Leonardtown campus dean since 2005, was named the new president of Frederick Community College. He took over that job July 1.
Regina Bowman-Goldring, senior executive director of student services at CSM, served as interim dean after Talley’s departure. “She did an outstanding job as interim. Basically, the campus didn’t miss a beat,” Gottfried said.